Imagine the cognitive dissonance if sophisticated and well-spoken British actor Benedict Cumberbatch turned out to be an Olympic-caliber athlete. That’s the level of surprise we experience upon matting the throttle of a Continental GT Speed. The tires chirp despite the car having all-wheel drive as we blast away from a stoplight on Woodward Avenue. Driving a Bentley coupe that can scare the muscle cars prowling Woodward — even Dodge Hellcats — is as fantastic as watching Cumberbatch outsprint Usain Bolt.
The 2015 Bentley Continental GT Speed hides its muscles beneath a tidy, well-tailored suit. The coupe’s dapper looks and imposing proportions are upset only by larger front air intakes, unique 21-inch wheels, cursive “Speed” badges, a pop-up spoiler, and rifled exhaust tips. Driving around town, the Bentley’s W-12 and ZF’s impeccable eight-speed automatic transmission are as smooth as a well-trained chauffeur. The interior, with its sublime combination of leather and knurled metals, is more comfortable than our living room.
You push the thin metal accelerator into the carpet, and the turbochargers awaken, inertia pins you against the back of your seat. The Bentley charges forward like Bolt leaving the blocks.
The W-12 engine’s 626 hp arrives fashionably late at 6,000 rpm, but you ride a 607 lb-ft wave of torque from 2,000 right up to 5,000 rpm. Full-bore acceleration is less of a slingshot, hold-on-tight sensation and more like the unrelenting shove of an Airbus taking off. Given enough straight road, premium unleaded, and driver fortitude, the 2015 Bentley Continental GT Speed will run to 206 mph — 2 mph faster than the crude, 707-hp Dodge Charger Hellcat.
Performance is in Bentley’s blood — the marque first won at Le Mans way back in 1924 — so a go-fast Conti GT is far less surprising than if, say, Rolls-Royce made a deluxe muscle car. But the 2015 Bentley Continental GT Speed still astonishes with the way it blends near-supercar performance and faultless luxury. For a quarter-million bucks you can buy all manner of powerful and glamorous vehicles, yet few combine those attributes as well as does the Continental GT Speed.
2015 Bentley Continental GT Speed Specifications
- On Sale: Now
- Price: $232,025/$255,365 (base/as tested)
- Engine: 6.0-liter twin-turbo W-12/626 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 607 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Layout: 2-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, AWD coupe
- EPA Mileage: 13/20 mpg (city/highway)
- L x W x H: 189.2 x 76.5 x 54.9 in
- Wheelbase: 108.1 in
- Weight: 5,115 lb
- 0-60 mph: 4.0 seconds
- Top Speed: 206 mph